Canvassing was the door-to-door, street-by-street survey of a municipality or neighborhood to determine the number of potential customers for a central station. This book probably dates from late 1882 or early 1883, when the Edison Electric Light Co. directed canvassing operations through agents of the Edison Co. for Isolated Lighting. The printed forms on its pages were designed to record data about each prospective customer, including the type of building, its use, the number of gas lamps in operation, the duration of their use, and miscellaneous information such as the presence of large trees that might interfere with electrical wires. Two pages of "General Instructions to Canvassers," which are glued to the inside front cover, have been reproduced. The remainder of the book was not used.
Related material can be found in the canvassing scrapbook of Alfred O. Tate (Miscellaneous Scrapbook Series). Three other books dating from 1883-1884 contain the canvasses of Worchester, Massachusetts, Knoxville, Tennessee, and probably New York City's second district. They have not been selected. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.